Summer! You are here! I don’t believe in using the calendar to define summer’s beginning; rather, I use these two events: my first sunburn, followed by my first purchase of sunscreen. You’d think I’d have learned by now to reverse the two, but once again, I am pink, and now slathering on the 50 spf with reckless abandon. Lesson learned (until I do it again next year).
I hope everyone else on the West coast enjoyed yesterday’s sun as much as I did, and fortunately I have more to share with you than just sunburns. First is lunch at Baker One Café, and the second, a tasting of new menu at Pier 73 restaurant. It sits right on the Fraser River and is part of the Delta Hotel, where I’m staycationing this weekend!
First, lunch. Baker One Café took over the Aoyama Café space in Aberdeen Centre (which I reviewed many months ago). It’s a similar style of food – predominantly Western food with Japanese twists – and the menu includes everything from pastas and udon to paninis and fried pork cutlets, with a large drink cold menu and specialty coffee.
I wanted something on the lighter side, so I ordered the bacon and avocado panini ($8) with salad ($2), a sparkling grape and basil drink, and the tofu with ginger syrup for dessert.
The drink was truly lovely – tonic-style sparkling water with sliced grapes and fresh chopped basil. SO lush and summery.
While the salad was a little sad, the panini was tasty.
It had plenty of freshly mashed avocado, slices of salty bacon, tomato, and lettuce.
Since my visit to Excellent Tofu and Snack a while ago, I’ve fully embraced the concept of plain tofu for dessert. It’s so light, refreshing, cooling, and healthy – ideal summer food. That’s why I went with the tofu and ginger syrup at Baker One, and was very pleased with my decision.
It was simple and wonderful, especially with the sweet gingery syrup.
Later in the day I checked into the Delta, which has such a fine view of the Fraser River. Early in the morning you can watch the UBC rowers go by, and at this time of year, duck families with their brand new ducklings swimming along in perfect lines!
Once I’d gotten settled into my room, I headed down to Pier 73 for a preview of their new menu. This round restaurant has an enviable location – it sits right on the river, with views of the water from pretty much every window.
I watched the sun go down as I sampled their summer menu, which features some Ocean Wise seafood (yes!) and local Gelderman farms pork (yes yes!). I ate my way through six delicious courses:
1. Albacore Tuna and Chilled Soba with sesame soy aioli, yuzu marinated cucumber and carrots, chilled soba noodles, wasabi, and ginger.
Like the tofu I had at Baker One, this was a chilled, refreshing meal for a hot day.
I especially liked the tuna (sprinkled with large grain sea salt and black sesame) dipped in the sesame aioli.
2. Calamari Fry with potato fried squid, fresh jalapenos, preserved lemon, yam, red onion, fresh cilantro, lime aioli, and house-made cocktail sauce.
I rarely order calamari, simply because I try to limit the amount of deep-fried food I eat (I’m attempting to finish my 365 days with my digestive system fully intact). Getting a taste of calamari was therefore a real treat, and WHOA. This stuff was unreal. Unlike most calamari I’ve tried, this tasted of so much more of than just deep-fry.
The chilies, cilantro, crispy yams, and preserved lemon meant there was actual flavour in this dish, which was also perfectly salted and served with two delicious dips. They use potato starch instead of flour to batter the squid, so it’s also gluten free! This is some of the best calamari I’ve ever had, and I’d highly recommend trying it when the new menu is out.
3. Seared Pacific Halibut with new potatoes, clams, champagne brown butter, radishes, roasted carrots, green beans, and parsley.
This is a dish for those who appreciate great seafood and seasonal vegetables. The champagne brown butter sauce was rich but not overpowering, and the salty clams paired nicely with the mild and tender halibut.
4. Crispy Pork Sandwich with pickled red onion, smoked gouda, wild arugula, and grainy mustard.
This breaded Gelderman Farms pork loin sandwich was wickedly good – I tried the slider version (since I had 5 other courses to get through) but they’ll be serving the full version this summer. It had all the elements you want in a sandwich: excellent bun, something pepper (arugula) something pickled (red onion), something smoky (gouda), something crunchy (pork) and something tangy (grainy mustard). Big fan of this sammie, big big fan.
5. Duck Confit Fettuccini with cultivated mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, Reggiano, Italian parsley, chicken stock, goat cheese, tomatoes, and white wine.
This was certainly a heavier dish, but perfect for fans of duck confit. It’s earthy, a bit creamy from the goat cheese, and rich with flavour.
6. Tart Flight with 3 varieties.
The tart flight is a new concept Pier 73 is introducing for the summer; they’ll prepare an ever-changing variety of small tarts that customers can choose from, making it possible to finish their meals with a few sweet bites rather than an overwhelmingly large dessert. It’s a great idea, and last night I tried the lemon meringue, turtle, and drunken cherry tarts. The lemon curd was sweet and tart, with a perfect little cap of meringue on top.
The turtle tart provided the chocolate fix, with caramel, chocolate ganache, and a pecan.
Finally, the drunken cherry tart had liqueur-soaked cherries with white chocolate mousse and crispy little chocolate pearls.
All three tarts were excellent, and it was nice to have different flavours without being overwhelmed by giant portions. Thanks to everyone at the Delta and Pier 73 for welcoming me so warmly yesterday, and for the amazing tasting menu! Today my friends Dana and Lindsay are joining me for brunch at the hotel, then it’s off for more adventures in the sun. Enjoy the day everyone, and remember:
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available